Christopher Bell fends off Hemric for Xfinity Series win at Kentucky

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Christopher Bell fends off Hemric for Xfinity Series win at Kentucky
Nick DeGroot
By: Nick DeGroot
Jul 14, 2018, 3:01 AM

Christopher Bell held back Daniel Hemric and Kyle Busch to win the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Kentucky Speedway.

Christopher Bell, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry Rheem
Christopher Bell, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry Rheem
Crew chief Jason Ratcliff and Christopher Bell, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry Rheem
Christopher Bell, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry Rheem
Daniel Hemric, Richard Childress Racing, Chevrolet Camaro South Point Hotel & Casino, Justin Allgaier, JR Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Dale Jr's Whisky River
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry NOS Energy Drink
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry NOS Energy Drink
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry NOS Energy Drink

After taking the lead with 16 laps to go, Bell had to navigate slower traffic and fend off a charging Daniel Hemric to win his third career NASCAR Xfinity Series race and second this year.

"That was pretty special man," Bell said in relief after the race, leading just 17 laps en route to the victory.

"Man it was extremely difficult starting in the back there," he added in Victory Lane. "I knew my car would handle a little bit different than it would at the front, but we kept getting good pit stops, gaining spots here and gaining spots there and got a good restart and next thing you know, we're up front and the cars driving completely different.

Stage 1 and 2

Cole Custer led the first 15 laps of the race before he was run down and overtaken by Busch, who then checked out and led the remainder of the stage, taking the Stage 1 win with ease.

Custer was second, John Hunter Nemechek third, Matt Tifft fourth and Austin Cindric fifth. Brandon Jones, Tyler Reddick, Justin Allgaier, Hemric and Elliott Sadler rounded out the top-ten.

The race resumed on Lap 52 with Busch still in control. Ty Majeski restarted on the front row after a two-tire call, but he got loose and got into the Turn 2 wall, causing him to make an unscheduled pit stop.

Busch continued on unchallenged until the closing laps of the stage when Nemechek ran him down and harassed him for the top spot, ultimately taking it with ten laps remaining.

Nemechek went on to win the second stage over Busch, Custer, Cindric, Jones, Allgaier, Christopher Bell, Reddick, Paul Menard and Hemric.

Stage 3

The final stage went green on Lap 98, but quickly returned to yellow as Blake Jones went spinning. As the old adage goes, cautions breed cautions and on the ensuing restart, another incident took place as Nemechek slid up the track and got into Jones, sending him spinning across the track and into the inside wall on the backstretch. 

The next restart came on Lap 109 and the race went green for 24 laps before Majeski brought out the fifth caution of the race, spinning through the infield.

The field filed down pit road, but it was Michael Annett winning the race off with a bold two-tire call. 

During the caution period, things went wrong for Stage 2 winner Nemechek as he lost all power and required a push back to the pits.

When the race resumed, Annett could not hold the lead for long and actually slid up the track in Turns 1 and 2, nearly colliding with Hemric as he dropped several positions. 

But with 56 laps to go, Hemric went on the attack and did something few were able to do at Kentucky, passing Busch for the race lead. He proceeded to pull away until the yellow flag flew once more when contact between Tifft and Sadler sent the latter bouncing off the wall.

During the caution, Busch made a risky call to come down pit road to make adjustments on his No. 18 machine. He dropped from 3rd to 14th, but it didn't take him long to carve his way back through the pack.

Allgaier shot into the lead on a restart with 49 laps to go as Hemric did all he could to hang on to second. After a brief run, the seventh caution of the race came out when Joey Gase spun into the outside wall.

Allgaier restarted with the race lead while Busch was already back up inside the top-six. Bell got under Hemric for the runner-up position on the restart and set his sights on Allgaier.

"I don't know why, but it's just slow," complained Busch over the radio as his charge stalled out in fourth.

But up front, the battle for the win was heating up as the leading trio navigated lapped traffic. With 16 laps to go, Bell got a massive run on Allgaier and muscled his way into the lead. Hemric followed suit and reclaimed the second position as Allgaier fell all the way back to fourth as Busch also moved by.

Hemric tried to close the gap in traffic, but to no avail, coming 0.848 seconds short of the win at the checkered flag.

Hemric was very disappointed after the race, feeling he chose the wrong land when he had the lead for a late restart. "Just didn't execute on my end. Did not get the restarts I needed to ... Unbelievably frustrated on my end, just didn't get the job done. I wish I had the opportunity to redo some things on my end."

Busch was third, Allgaier fourth and Custer fifth. Reddick, Nemechek, Reed, Menard and Cindric rounded out the top-ten.

Cla#DriverManufacturerLapsTimeLaps LedStatusPoints
1 20 united_states Christopher Bell  Toyota 200   17   44
2 21 united_states Daniel Hemric  Chevrolet 200 0.848 8   38
3 18 united_states Kyle Busch  Toyota 200 1.524 111    
4 7 united_states Justin Allgaier  Chevrolet 200 4.227 32   41
5 00 united_states Cole Custer  Ford 200 4.372 14   49
6 9 united_states Tyler Reddick  Chevrolet 200 7.699     38
7 42 united_states John Hunter Nemechek  Chevrolet 200 8.124 14   48
8 16 united_states Ryan Reed  Ford 200 8.338     29
9 22 united_states Paul Menard  Ford 200 9.219      
10 12 united_states Austin Cindric  Ford 200 9.386     40
11 2 united_states Matt Tifft  Chevrolet 200 10.451     33
12 1 united_states Elliott Sadler  Chevrolet 200 18.599     26
13 11 united_states Ryan Truex  Chevrolet 200 19.826     24
14 3 united_states Ty Dillon  Chevrolet 200 19.845      
15 5 united_states Michael Annett  Chevrolet 200 19.930 4   22
16 39 united_states Ryan Sieg  Chevrolet 200 21.827     21
17 4 united_states Ross Chastain  Chevrolet 200 23.200     20
18 51 united_states Jeremy Clements  Chevrolet 200 27.983     19
19 0 united_states Garrett Smithley  Chevrolet 198 2 laps     18
20 23 united_states Spencer Gallagher  Chevrolet 198 2 laps     17
21 15 united_states B.J. McLeod  Chevrolet 196 4 laps     16
22 8 united_states Ray Black Jr.  Chevrolet 196 4 laps     15
23 52 united_states David Starr  Chevrolet 195 5 laps     14
24 76 united_states Spencer Boyd  Chevrolet 195 5 laps     13
25 78 united_states Jones Blake  Chevrolet 194 6 laps     12
26 55 united_states Brandon Hightower  Toyota 194 6 laps     11
27 60 united_states Ty Majeski  Ford 193 7 laps     10
28 45 united_states Josh Bilicki  Toyota 193 7 laps     9
29 01 united_states Vinnie Miller  Chevrolet 192 8 laps     8
30 74 united_states Mike Harmon  Chevrolet 190 10 laps     7
31 40 united_states Chad Finchum  Toyota 172 28 laps   Transmission 6
32 36 canada Alex Labbé  Chevrolet 168 32 laps     5
33 35 united_states Joey Gase  Chevrolet 161 39 laps   Accident 4
34 38 united_states J.J. Yeley  Chevrolet 119 81 laps   Suspension 3
35 90 united_states Josh Williams  Chevrolet 107 93 laps   Carburettor 2
36 19 united_states Brandon Jones  Toyota 104 96 laps   Accident 12
37 66 united_states Timmy Hill  Dodge 55 145 laps   Fuel pump 1
38 89 united_states Morgan Shepherd  Chevrolet 25 175 laps   Vibration 1
39 79 united_states Josh Reaume  Chevrolet 9 191 laps   Overheating  
40 93 united_states Jeff Green  Chevrolet 6 194 laps   Electrical 1
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